AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Brick Oven Pizza at Home DATE: 3/29/2010 12:35:00 AM ----- BODY:
“Brick-oven” pizzas are revered because the brick bottomed ovens get screaming hot and retain heat very well. And, in fact, all pizza ovens are set at about 700F, some getting as hot as 800F. This high heat gets the crust extra-crispy, and prevents the toppings from sogging up the dough.

Getting a crispy crust at home is more challenging. Most ovens max out at 500F. Pizza stones mimic the pizza oven floor in that they absorb heat and will get that much hotter than the ambient air of the oven.

I don’t have a pizza stone, but still have a few tricks up my sleeve for getting a crispy crust:

The first, I pre-fry the dough in canola oil before topping and baking the pizza. During the baking process, the oil releases itself from the dough helping to further crisp the crust. This has been my default, but it does have a few drawbacks – mainly that it adds extra fat along with the extra step.

Lately, I’ve been baking my pizzas on the floor of the oven. This gives the crust direct, intense heat as opposed to the ambient heat of baking the pizza on a lower shelf. With this method, the crust crisps up in about 5 minutes. You can then move the pizza to a higher shelf to finish browning the toppings.

Pizza is a great way to use up left-overs. From last night’s dinner, I had some eggplant and smoked tomato coulis. With the addition of fresh mozzarella, I had a perfect dinner for both kids and adults!

There is no "perfect" recipe for pizza. It's really a matter of what you're in the mood for and what you have on hand. Here's my recipe for pizza dough.

1 cup water
1 tsp. yeast
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup semolina
2 tbs. olive oil
1 ½ tsp salt
1/2 tsp. sugar

1. Heat water to 105F. Dissolve yeast in water. In a separate bowl, combine flour, semolina, salt and sugar.

2. Using a dough hook, combine flours, yeasted water and olive oil. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in oiled bowl, cover with plastic and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down and form into pizza rounds.

Place dough on cookie sheet before topping.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:3/29/2010 07:22:00 PM Great technique, and that is one gorgeous crust! Also much less messy than sliding dough on cornmeal onto a pizza stone. Somehow the pizza gets there, but the cornmeal goes all over the place! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:3/29/2010 11:31:00 PM I like the idea of baking on the bottom of the oven - like Lydia, I usually end up with cornmeal everywhere. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Psychgrad DATE:3/31/2010 12:41:00 AM Good tips. I'm looking for a pizza stone. We make calzones pretty regularly, but don't have anything appropriately shaped for a regular pizza. ----- --------